Children, Ecology and Performance

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This article explores the generative role that child collaborators can have in the development of an ecological performance practice. It elucidates how children might uniquely do the ecological in the context of devising professional contemporary performance. Specifically, this article focuses on a piece of practice-led research, Wild Life - a performance project that sits between choreography, live art and contemporary theatre. Wild Life involved collaborating with eight professional and non-professional performers between nine and 60 years to co-devise a performance that explored and enacted ‘wildness’. The process of co-creating, directing and critically reflecting on Wild Life has led me to propose that intergenerational collaboration is a particularly dynamic performance ecology through which to understand and develop an ecological practice.

The main proposition of this article is that the ecological potential of performance lies in the actualities of devising in collaboration with diverse people, where children are treated as capable and skilled artists in their own right who have unique performance aesthetics, styles and abilities. I discuss how child collaborators might significantly enable live theatrical performance to do the ecological in its very modes and moments of enactment. I propose that the spontaneity and pragmatism of, what I call, the just doing-ness of child performers, can implicitly draw attention to what Jane Bennett (2010 Bennett, Jane (2010) Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, London: Duke University Press.[Crossref], [Google Scholar]) describes as the ‘vital materiality’ of the human and, in doing so, performance can draw attention to our inevitable human interconnection and interactivity with(in) vibrant nonhuman matter.

This discussion brings diverse fields into dialogue with each other in order to offer a unique discussion on children, performance and ecology. These fields are: performance and ecology; children in contemporary performance; intergenerational practice; and, vital materialism.


Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)61-67
Number of pages7
JournalPerformance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 16 Jun 2018

Author keywords

  • child performers, intergenerational, performance, ecology, nonhuman, collaboration